The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

A row of mustard greens for a quick crop – a row or bed of mustard or mixed greens will be ready to harvest in 45 days if you sow them in the next week. The cool soil of mid-September will promote quick growth. You can sow curly mustard as a green by itself or mix it with curly kale, tender green, kale, broadleaf and leafy turnip. An ounce of greens cost two dollars. They will mix them in any ratio you desire at the hardware or seed shop. Plant in a row about 2 inches deep, cover row with an inch of Pete Moss then sprinkle seed and cover with soil and put down the soil with a hoe blade. Water every few days with the water wand if it is no rain in the forecast.

Investing in a durable water wand – we mentioned a water wand in the above paragraph. They are a great irrigation every gardener needs because they can apply water directly how and where you need it without waste. A good water wand cost around $10 or $12 and has a dial of settings from stream to spray to shower to mist. All the settings will place the right amount of water where you need it. The amount of water saved in the year will offset the cost of the wand.

Enjoying the apples of autumn – the autumn apple crop is arriving in a sea of gold, green, and scarlet at produce stands and supermarkets. There are so many types and varieties of apples with many coming from Washington, Virginia, North Carolina, but the very best by far come from New York. Maybe it’s the tough winters and late springs or the soil, but apples from New York are crispier and more moist than any others.

Starting Christmas cactus on journey to living room for winter – As September moves to the halfway mark, it’s time to prepare the move of the Christmas cactus from its abode on the front porch where it has been since the month of May. Step one is adding some extra cactus medium to the containers and applying a shot of liquid fertilizer and water once a week for the remainder of September. As October arrives we will check the forecast for frost and move the plants to a sunny location in the living room for winter. The secret to blooms is the stay outside during the summer that paves the way to blooms in late November into December.

Bulbs of spring are arriving at hardware and garden shops – a sure sign of autumn is the arrival of spring flowering bulbs in green shops and hardware stores. You can purchase and plant these bulbs from now until late October. There are many choices including daffodils, jonquils, tulips, crocus, and snow drops. Buy bulbs that are in mesh bags so you can’t inspect and feel them and observe the condition of the bulbs you are purchasing. Buy a durable bulb planter to make the job of planting easier. Also buy a bag of bulb booster to get bulbs off to a good start. Apply a layer of crushed leaves after planting for protection from hard winter freezes.

Planting Oriental cabbage and kale – A few containers of ornamental cabbage and kale can be planted in containers to replace summer annuals. These plants are tough and will survive winter temperatures with a better protection from frost and freezes by moving them to a location on the porch or carport away from frost, wind and hard freezes. These cole family members come in curly and broad leaves in colors of wine, red, green, yellow, white, purple and burgundy. Plant only one per container. Cover container with a towel when freezes are predicted. Remove towel next day and do not overwater them to prevent freezing soil.

Hummers preparing for a journey south – even though the flowers of the summer season are fading fast, the hummingbirds are still searching for food and they need all our help. Keep feeders filled with nectar and watch out for them at the feeders. Most of them will be in the area until the first 10 days of October. Just remember – all of them don’t leave for Mexico at the same time.

Remembering the dual Ferris wheels – As county fair time is in full swing, we remember the magnificent twin Ferris wheel at the county fair’s of the 1950s with their lighted stars in the circle and blue or red lights around the circle. A beautiful sight that was the centerpiece of the midway on an autumn night. We wonder if there are still any in existence. They may have went the way of the “Tunnel of Love” ride which still exist in the Sandusky, Ohio amusement park. In most of today’s daredevil rods, older is still better!

Raising turnips from seed transplants – an experiment in the autumn garden plot this year hopefully will yield larger turnips and production through the whole winter. Begin by sowing seeds of turnips in a quart or pint flower pot of seed starting medium mixed with the proper ratio of water, reserving a handful of the prepared medium to cover the seed after sowing in the pot. In about 10 days, they will develop two leaves. Use a spray bottle of water to moisten the flower pot every day. As the sun warms the day move the turnips to a shady spot and spray a light mist of water on the pot. When plants develop two leaves it is time to transplant them to individual small pots. Place the plants that have been filled with potting – seed starter in the tray so that you can keep water in the bottom of the trays as well as mist the top of the pots to cool them each day. They will be ready to transplant to the garden plot when they reach two to three inches tall. Set them out about three or four inches apart and as they grow, hill up the soil on both sides of them. As the temperatures get colder in October, add a layer of crushed leaves between the rows. Fertilize turnips every eight to 10 days with miracle grow liquid fertilizer. Transplanted turnips should produce well because they will have plenty of room to develop healthy turnips.

Experimenting with bunching onions seed tapes – park seed offers bunching onions see tapes and we have planted a bed of them. My mom always called them multiplying onions. We look forward to checking how they perform.

Ray Baird

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